Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Scrap Top Completed

54" square
Perfect size for my dining room wall

Several years ago I went to a lecture by Kaye England , (a hilarious speaker by the way!)

I bought a pattern called Country Lanes which I came across recently during a much needed culling of 'stuff' in my sewing room.
I said to myself, "Either make it or get rid of the pattern."

You may know I like working with scraps    so .  .  .

. . . out came bags, tubs and drawers of bits and pieces; all colors and styles.

I had enough of a tan print for the major background pieces but used a mixture of neutrals in the pieced sections.

The close up to the left shows how placing three light square in corners of some sections creates the illusion of circular shapes.

1" finished squares
I prefer the less precise look of varied backgrounds plus it allows me use what I have.

I did not buy one speck of fabric for this top.

I did not 'strip piece'. 

I cut 1 1/2" squares from what I had making piles of various colors, then just sewed light to dark over and over...and over, creating 9 patches of various configurations.

Do you have scraps to 'use up'?

 Here's a link to the Pattern

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Bricks Series Returns - #8 In Progress

Does this look familiar?
If you've read my posts over the last few years you've seen this top.

Click Here to see the first post on the Bricks Project

I am taking up the Bricks Project again. I've  been on hiatus from this for too long. I had to switch gears when a few other projects took priority. . . but I'm back.

I still want the answer to the question I asked in  2011:

 "How many small quilts could I make out of this one top?"

See the first 6 small quilts here
And #7 here 

I once swore that I would never make a hexagon quilt but you know what they say, "Never say never!"

For # 8 in the series,  I've decided to experience the technique of English paper piecing - the old fashioned way; trace and cut out my own papers. I know you can order them pre-cut but part of why I do these small quilts is to learn, experience and appreciate the way things were done before we had so many 'helps' on the market.

For paper I am using the little annoying inserts that fall out of magazines...a good weight I think for cutting the hexagons and making them removable.

After tracing and cutting the first few one at a time, (duh) I decided to staple 4 papers together, draw as many hexagons as possible on the top sheet and staple the center of each one enabling me to cut out four at a time.
Generous friendDawn (Collector with a Needle), gave me the metal template for tracing, (okay, I'm not a total purist), and she gave me a quick demo on basting the fabric to the paper. She has a lot of experience with hexies.

I did two the first night and my thumb joint hurt! Yes, after just TWO! I was having second thoughts about this.

Today it went more smoothly.  I tried using a small applique pin to hold the fabric to the paper and another of those pins to hold down the starting fold. That helped keep things from slipping.

I'm using up old spools of thread to baste. I don't go through the paper so once I've joined each hex on all sides I will remove those papers and re-use them.

Here's my growing pile:

My new question: 

"Will I ever 'use up' all the fabric gleaned from that c. 1910 top?"

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Opps! 2017 Already

Is 2016 really over? I meant to post before it ended but here we are.

If you are reading this, I must thank you for not giving up on me! I refuse to claim being 'too busy'. Everyone is busy. But I did have a pretty productive year as far as quiltmaking goes.

Not having my own grand kids (yet) I have enjoyed making little quilts for other people's darlings.

I've used the Hourglass pattern for a number of quick and easy crib quilts. This one is for Beatrice.

Butterfly Flip is a great pattern by Terri Atkinson, our own Minnesota phenom, and I made two with funky brights, one for Bjorn and one for Greyson. You thought I put in the same photo twice, didn't you? Nope. The blocks are different fabrics and check out the inner borders....but I did use the same adorable owl print as outer borders.

I gained some confidence in my free motion machine quilting in the process.

The big project of the year was a wedding quilt for my son and new (as of September) Daughter-in-Law. I decided to go with something more contemporary.

I found the idea in a book called Block Party (The Modern Quilting Bee) and did it with mostly batik scraps, many of which were donated by friends who work with batiks more than I do. I used mostly 'earth-tones' and went for organic shapes such as rocks, trees, stars, leaves, water, sky, stars. I mixed in regular prints, too.

 It made a complete mess of my sewing room for a long time but it was so much fun.

I even had the two of them come over and sew some of the strips, not showing them the pattern. Dueling sewing machines facing each other - they really got into it. I had hoped they'd just make a strip each to be part of it - but they wouldn't stop, making six each.
" I thought you might just be humoring me!" I said. Heather replied, "I was at first!" Then she offered to come back and do some more.

Design wall

With the magic of long-arm quilting I was able to give it to them at Christmas time.

Full View 96" square

Pieced back

Happy Holidays
 best wishes for a happy and productive 2017!

Sunday, August 28, 2016

To Pre- Wash or Not to Pre-Wash?

That is the question.
Whether you bring home  a few fat quarters or a big bag of new fabrics, you have a decision to make before you take that fabric to your sewing room.

You have just two choices:

1. Leave it in the laundry room until you have time to pre-wash and dry it all. (Then to the ironing board to press, fold and store in whatever system you have developed that enables some possibility of finding it again.)


 2. Skip all but the last step. Bring it straight to your sewing area, put it away and use it as needed.

We can all see why #2 is the choice for many quilters. But. I am not one of them.  I pre-wash everything.

Technically, I should say pre-soak since I don't use soap. I use cold water and a big pure white plastic bowl from the $1 store. (A white dish washing tub will work, too.)
This allows me to see any dye creeping out into the water. Sometimes it is immediate. If so I drain and refill with cold water.
(Investigate the product Retayne if something keeps bleeding and re-think using the piece in your project)

Even if nothing shows up at first, leave it there for maybe 20 minutes. Most fabrics hold excess dye. It can come out now, or after the first time water hits it. After spending months or years making a quilt for yourself or for a gift that is a risk you take.

The photos you see are of high quality batik scraps given to me by friends contributing to a quilt I'm making. All told me the fabric was not pre-washed so I grouped the scraps by color and these photos are typical of the results.

There are varying opinions on this issue. Some say blues and reds may bleed (see the gold/yellow above). Others say today's fabrics really don't "bleed much". Not true.

If you make bed quilts and want them to be used as such, they will be washed at some point. To me, it makes sense to minimize the possibility of ruining a quilt the first time it's washed.
Wall hangings may be an exception as they are rarely washed but it makes sense to be consistent.  If you have not previously pre-washed and believe you should start, you can usually tell pre-washed pieces by the somewhat frayed edges. When in doubt, just soak the questionable fabric before using to be sure. Then from now on, pre-wash any new fabrics you acquire.
Besides the risk of dye bleeding, other benefits of pre-washing include shrinking the fabric and removing sizing chemicals.

There is no guarantee that pre-washing will prevent all bleeding. The first time or two I wash a quilt I am cautious. I used cool water and mild detergent. I toss in several dye catcher sheets and examine the quilt when it comes out of the washer. I use medium heat in the dryer and watch it carefully. I find the quicker it dries the less chance of darker colors seeping into the light areas.
For me, part of the pleasure of textiles is handling and admiring them so I relax and enjoy the process and I sleep well knowing that I've done what I can to minimize 'bleeding' later.

To read a past post about my quilt washing experience with details about my process click here.